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Republican Guard 'costs too much'

Elite unit would not protect buildings from a terrorist attack and are mainly there for pomp and ceremony

THE ELITE unit that provides pomp and ceremony on French state occasions is too expensive and ineffective, according to a new report by France's spending watchdog, the Cour des Comptes.

President Hollande's government has been told to reduce the size of the Garde Republicaine, which has a staff of almost 3,000 and costs €280million to run every year.

The guard is responsible for protecting public buildings including the Elysée palace and Matignon, the residence of the prime minister Jean-Marc Ayrault - as well as the Senate and National Assembly.

The Cour des Comptes said that their presence was mainly symbolic and that "in the event of an organised intrusion, (they) would not be in a position to resist".

Interior minister Manuel Valls is reported to be in favour of a review into government spending on security at public buildings - but he added that it was important for security to remain at a high level because of the threat of terrorism.

Thousands turn out to watch the Garde Republicaine march down along the Champs-Elysées in Paris on the traditional July 14 military parade.

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